As much as the world made Michael Jackson lareger than life, the King of Pop remained grounded through his music, charitable efforts, family, friends and loved ones. ESSENCE.com takes a look at those special moments and things that made MJ everyday people.
He always volunteered his time to many charities, whether it was through song or hands-on contributions, such as this fund-raising event he hosted at his Neverland estate on September 13, 2003, in Los Olivos, California.
Michael Jackson and Stephanie Mills
both starred in “The Wiz”—she on Broadway; he on the big screen—and they dated briefly as well.
The “Off the Wall” singer might have strutted his stuff in gleaming shoes, but his brother Marlon Jackson admitted that he often rocked the same worn clunker just so he could feel normal.
MJ didn’t take himself too seriously. His gravity-defying move in his video for “Smooth Criminal” is legendary. He joked to LL Cool J that he had an “Indian swami come in and do a ritual to make it happen,” fooling the rapper for at least an hour until he confessed he was just kidding.
There’s nothing more ordinary than a man in love. Michael sealed his affection for then-wife Lisa Marie Presley before millions with a kiss on September 8, 1994, at New York’s Radio City Music Hall during the MTV Video Music Awards.
Fatima Robinson revealed exclusively to ESSENCE.com that the King of Pop confessed to never having eaten at L.A.‘s famous Roscoes’ House of Chicken ’n Waffles when they worked on the “Remember the Time” video together and she happily obliged him by giving him a taste test.
Magic Johnson shared a story similar to Fatima’s about the Gloved One in which he revealed during the entertainer’s memorial service that he and MJ ate a bucket of KFC when he visited him.
Michael Jackson wowed folks with the Moonwalk, but he, like most folks in Black America, was a fan of “Soul Train.” Don Cornelius told ESSENCE.com exclusively that MJ learned the signature dance move from Pop’in Pete from the dance group Electric Boogaloo.
As much as folks believed the notion that MJ was far removed from Black America, the reality is he was surrounded by his people on the regular. And the Nation of Islam supported him throughout his child molestation trial, waiting outside the courthouse day after day.
The King of Pop traveled far and near for his musical mentor and role model James Brown, whom he emulated since he was a kid. He surprised the Godfather of Soul during a tribute to him at the 3rd Annual BET Awards in Los Angeles.
Michael never had a problem putting his friends first. He flew in from Bahrain to attend James Brown’s Augusta, Georgia, funeral on December 30, 2006, at the James Brown Arena. “My father loved and respected him,” Deanna Brown told ESSENCE of her father and Michael’s relationship.
If anyone ever wondered about MJ’s parenting skills, his daughter Paris let the world know at his public memorial service in a heartfelt, tearful proclamation that he was the “best daddy ever.”